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Sunday, February 15, 2004

Gush Katif March to Jerusalem has begun

The first 100 marchers from Gush Katif - Jewish Gaza - set out for Jerusalem this morning. "We will tell the Prime Minister that we only know how to march forwards!" say the organizers.

The four-day march comes in response to Prime Minister Sharon's stated intentions to unilaterally abandon Jewish Gaza; withdraw the IDF from the bases, towns, and coast; and expel the nearly 8,000 Jewish residents from their homes.

Mayor Avner Shimoni released a letter of "encouragement and preparation," in which he wrote, "It's been a long while that the Prime Minister releases dangerous declarations casting a shadow over our future. We, the residents of Jewish Gaza, who have merited seeing amazing miracles every day for the past three years, especially regarding the thousands of mortar shells and rockets that have landed here [with barely a casualty], are certain that He Who saves us from the bombs will also save us from the Prime Minister - and will hopefully save Arik [Sharon] from himself...

We are confident that we will remain in our homes for many years, but there is no doubt that the willingness of the Prime Minister to even talk in this manner sounds an alarm for us and encourages the enemy. We have therefore embarked on this campaign today, which can succeed only if we are determined, strong, and believe in the justness of our cause. It would be appropriate for this verse to echo in our ears: 'Let us arise and inherit the Land, for we are well able to overcome it."

The marchers, who will be joined by other residents of Gush Katif and southern Israel throughout the coming days, are scheduled to stop at Kibbutz Saad this afternoon, some 20 kilometers to the north of the starting point at Kisufim They will spend the night in Sderot, some ten kilometers further north, where the locals will greet the visitors with signs, youths manning stands, classes, and more. A central ceremony will be held at the Yeshivat Hesder of Sderot at 7:15 PM this evening.

The march's promotional literature explains:
"Residents of the Gush: Over the past years, we have shown determination and strength. We have merited seeing the G-d of Israel's miraculous providence. Ever since, and today especially, the eyes of the People of Israel are turned towards us. WE HAVE RESPONSIBILITY, AND WE HAVE A MISSION - to sound the clear call: We Are Marching Forward!

"This is not the time to sit with hands folded; now is the time to act! Whoever has faith in his heart, determination in his eyes, and vision and hope in his soul - will join us in acting!

"The first action that has been decided is a march to Jerusalem with the residents of the south. The purpose is to express the strong spirit of the residents of the Gush and the public support of those who live elsewhere in Israel.

"Its success is dependent upon us - those who understand the mission that the Rock of Israel, Who gives us wellsprings of strength, has placed on our shoulders. Everyone will do his part - and together we will continue to march forward!"
The marchers are expected to reach Yad Mordechai on Monday afternoon, Ashkelon Monday evening, Yeshivat Ohr Etzion and Kiryat Malachi on Tuesday, and Jerusalem on Wednesday afternoon.

A climactic ceremony outside the Prime Minister's home is scheduled for 6:30 PM on Wednesday.